Madonna (entertainer)

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Madonna (entertainer) : biography

August 16, 1958 –

In 1985, Madonna commented that the first song to ever make a strong impression on her was "These Boots Are Made for Walkin’" by Nancy Sinatra; she said it summed up her own "take-charge attitude". As a young woman, she attempted to broaden her taste in literature, art, and music, and during this time became interested in classical music. She noted that her favorite style was baroque, and loved Mozart and Chopin because she liked their "feminine quality". Other musical influences included Karen Carpenter, The Supremes, Led Zeppelin, and dancers such as Martha Graham and Rudolf Nureyev. Madonna’s Italian-Catholic background and her relationship with her parents were reflected in the album Like a Prayer. It was an evocation of the impact religion had on her career. Her video for the title track contains Catholic symbolism, such as the stigmata. During The Virgin Tour, she wore a rosary, and also prayed with it in the music video for "La Isla Bonita". The "Open Your Heart" video sees her boss scolding her in the Italian language. On the Who’s That Girl World Tour, she dedicated the song "Papa Don’t Preach" to the Pope.

During her childhood, Madonna was inspired by actors, later saying, "I loved Carole Lombard and Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe. They were all incredibly funny … and I saw myself in them … my girlishness, my knowingness and my innocence." Her "Material Girl" music video recreated Monroe’s look in the song "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend", from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She studied the screwball comedies of the 1930s, particularly those of Lombard, in preparation for the film Who’s That Girl. The video for "Express Yourself" (1989) was inspired by Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis (1927). The video for "Vogue" recreated the style of Hollywood glamour photographs, in particular those by Horst P. Horst, and imitated the poses of Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth, while the lyrics referred to many of the stars who had inspired her, including Bette Davis, described by Madonna as an idol. Influences also came to her from the art world, most notably through the works of artist Frida Kahlo. The music video of the song "Bedtime Story" featured images inspired by the paintings of Kahlo and Remedios Varo. She is also a collector of Tamara de Lempicka’s art deco paintings and has included them in her music videos and tours. Her 2003 video for "Hollywood" was an homage to the work of photographer Guy Bourdin; Bourdin’s son subsequently filed a lawsuit for unauthorised use of his father’s work. Pop artist Andy Warhol’s use of sadomasochistic imagery in his underground films were reflected in the music videos for "Erotica" and "Deeper and Deeper". However, Madonna’s film career has been largely received negatively by the film critic community. Stephanie Zacharek, critic for Time magazine, stated that, "[Madonna] seems wooden and unnatural as an actress, and it’s tough to watch, because she’s clearly trying her damnedest." According to biographer Andrew Morton, "Madonna puts a brave face on the criticism, but privately she is deeply hurt." After the 2002 box office bomb Swept Away, Madonna vowed that she would never act in a film, hoping that her repertoire as a bad actress will never be discussed again.

Madonna is dedicated to Kabbalah and in 2004, she adopted the name Esther which in Persian means "star". She has donated millions of dollars to New York and London schools teaching the subject. She faced opposition from rabbis who felt Madonna’s adoption of the Kabbalah was sacrilegious and a case of celebrity dilettantism. Madonna defended her studies, saying "It would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party", and that her involvement with the Kabbalah is "not hurting anybody." The influence of the Kabbalah was subsequently observed in Madonna’s music, especially albums like Ray of Light and Music. During the Re-Invention World Tour, at one point in the show, Madonna and her dancers wore t-shirts that read "Kabbalists Do It Better".